Los Angeles Dodgers – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-13T18:14:48Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Dodgers Qualifying Offer Decisions: Ryu Accepts, Grandal Rejects]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137191 2018-11-12T23:22:20Z 2018-11-12T21:32:07Z
  • Yasmani Grandal won’t accept the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter).  Even in the wake of another mediocre postseason performance, there was little doubt Grandal would turn down the QO, as he projects to earn a strong contract as the best catcher in the free agent market.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu has accepted the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, as we explored in detail earlier today.  Ryu becomes the sixth player to ever accept a QO, out of the 80 free agents who have been offered the deal over the last seven offseasons.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Hyun-Jin Ryu To Accept Dodgers’ Qualifying Offer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137166 2018-11-12T21:04:31Z 2018-11-12T21:04:32Z 3:04pm: Ryu will indeed accept the qualifying offer, Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

    12:01pm: Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu is “most likely” going to accept the one-year, $17.9MM qualifying offer issued to him by the Dodgers, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (Twitter link) hears from a source, though nothing has been finalized as of yet.  The seven free agents who have qualifying offers pending have until 4pm CT today to accept or decline the one-year contracts.

    Of those seven names, Ryu was the only one who seemed like a realistic candidate to accept the QO, given his significant injury history.  Separate surgeries on Ryu’s shoulder and elbow cost him all of the 2015 season and limited him to just a single game in 2016, and a torn groin sidelined Ryu for almost three months of the 2018 campaign.  The southpaw also had DL stints for more minor hip and foot issues in 2017.

    These health concerns surely would’ve impacted Ryu’s stock on the free agent market, plus rejecting the qualifying offer would’ve meant that Ryu’s next team would’ve had to surrender draft picks and potentially international signing pool funds in order to sign him.  The QO, Ryu’s health history, and his age (he turns 32 in March) all factored into a relatively modest placement for the left-hander on MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents list — Ryu was ranked 20th, with a projected three-year, $33MM contract (from the Dodgers).

    If he does end up accepting the qualifying offer, Ryu would lock in a big payday for 2019 that is worth more than half of that $33MM projection.  The $17.9MM salary, in fact, would represent just under half of Ryu’s entire Major League earnings to this point, as he originally signed a six-year, $36MM contract with Los Angeles for over the 2013-18 seasons.  He’ll get another opportunity to prove that he can remain healthy over a full season, while doing so in a familiar environment of Dodger Stadium and playing for a contending team.  Ryu is also ineligible to ever receive another qualifying offer in any future trips into the free agent market, and thus wouldn’t have any further draft pick/international money compensation attached to his services.

    From the Dodgers’ perspective, committing $17.9MM to an oft-injured starter is something of a risk, considering that the team already has several rotation options in Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda, and Alex Wood (not to mention youngsters like Brock Stewart or Caleb Ferguson).  Starting pitching depth has been a centerpiece of the Dodgers’ success, however, as the team has dealt with injuries to virtually all of its starters over the last few years.  Even in the unlikely event that all of these arms stay healthy, the Dodgers could still deploy the excess pitchers in the bullpen — Wood, Stripling, and Maeda all spent time as relievers down the stretch last season.

    Furthermore, Ryu pitched so well in 2018 that the Dodgers felt a one-year, $17.9MM investment was worth seeing if the lefty could stay healthy and duplicate his performance.  Ryu posted a 1.97 ERA, 5.93 K/BB rate, and 9.7 K/9 over 82 1/3 innings last season, with a 90.2 mph average fastball that was in line with his pre-surgery velocity.  There also wasn’t much batted-ball luck baked into Ryu’s numbers, as his wOBA and xwOBA were a perfect match (.268).

    Ryu would become the sixth free agent to ever accept a qualifying offer, of the 80 who have been issued the one-year deals since the QO system was introduced for the 2012-13 offseason.  Ryu’s situation bears a lot of similarities to that of Brett Anderson, whose own lengthy injury history also factored into his decision to accept a qualifying offer from the Dodgers following the 2015 season rather than test free agency.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Chase Utley To Retire]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127271 2018-11-10T02:29:10Z 2018-11-10T02:24:08Z Longtime MLB star Chase Utley was released today by the Dodgers, clearing the way for his formal retirement. He announced in a press conference earlier this summer that he would retire at the end of the 2018 season.

    Utley, 39, turned in a compelling 16-year run at the major-league level. In addition to possessing high-end all-around talent, Utley will be remembered as perhaps the consummate grinder of his generation. Of course, his hard-nosed play also occasionally drew the ire of opposing players and fans.

    There’s ample cause to view Utley as a strong Hall of Fame candidate. The former No. 15 overall pick (Phillies, 2000) ran up a cumulative .275/.358/.465 batting line with 259 home runs, 1103 runs scored, 1025 RBIs and 154 stolen bases. The six-time All-Star won four Silver Slugger Awards at second base — each coming between 2006-09, when he was widely considered to be one of the best players in all of baseball. From 2005-13, Utley raked at a .290/.378/.503 clip — good for a robust 129 OPS+.

    Put it all together, and Utley compiled more than 60 wins above replacement by measure of both Baseball-Reference (65.4) and Fangraphs (63.2). More than half of that tally came during a ridiculous five-year run from 2005 through 2009, when Utley racked up value by contributing in all facets of the game. That monster peak coincided with the Phillies’ rise into a powerhouse. Utley paired with Jimmy Rollins to form an outstanding up-the-middle duo and the club fielded a variety of other high-end talents.

    Utley’s single best season, by measure of wins above replacement, came in 2008 when he helped lead the Phillies to a World Series Championship. Then 29 years of age, Utley hit .292/.380/.515 with 33 homers during the regular season and played a pivotal role in helping the Phils advance beyond the NLCS against the Dodgers.

    Over the years to come, Utley ramped down into merely a highly above-average player. He was churning out 3+ WAR campaigns through 2014 — marking a decade-long run in which he reached at least that annual tally (by B-Ref’s measure). The inevitable breakdown campaign came in 2015, but Utley still found a way to bounce back. He turned into a sturdy role player after moving to the Dodgers via trade. Utley was particularly useful during the 2016 and 2017 campaigns, when he appeared in 265 total games, providing the Dodgers with 918 plate appearances of .246/.321/.400 hitting and over 1600 innings of solid glovework.

    It was clear during the 2018 season that the end was near. Utley faded at the plate in limited action while dealing with thumb and wrist injuries. When he announced in the middle of the year that he’d hang up his spikes for good, it came as little surprise. The Dodgers preferred to keep him on the roster for the duration of the 2018 campaign, though Utley was not active for the postseason.

    By retiring now, Utley will forego the remainder of his contract with the Dodgers. He had been under contract for the 2019 season at a rate of $1MM. Giving up that cash will leave Utley just under the $125MM mark for career earnings. That’s a hefty haul, to be sure, but he earned every cent. It’ll be interesting to see how Hall voters ultimately handle Utley’s case. He doesn’t have the individual accolades that many prefer to see among Hall of Famers, but he had one of the better peaks of any second basemen in recent memory, has one of the more impressive overall resumes at that position, and will no doubt draw support from those who value his broad-based contributions to many successful teams.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Bryce Harper, Manny Machado]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136955 2018-11-09T05:06:25Z 2018-11-09T05:06:25Z We took a look yesterday at some of the early chatter on Bryce Harper. While the early chatter has been less voluminous with regard to fellow superstar Manny Machado, there’s little doubt that he will have his moment as well. As the stage-setting GM Meetings draw to a close, let’s check in on some additional notes on the market’s most-hyped free agents.

    • Some eyebrows raised this evening when it was observed that the White Sox had unveiled a stage set at Chicago’s United Center featuring Bryce Harper’s name. As Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports explains, there’s no reason to think this was the beginning of the roll-out of a signing; our readers from the south side can safely inform friends and neighbors that there’s nothing imminent. More likely, it’s part of a recruiting pitch for the popular young free agent, who is in Chicago today. The news shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, clearly, but that doesn’t mean it’s of no consequence. Evidently, the White Sox are serious enough pursuers that they have secured an in-person visit and are putting resources into a pitch. That certainly dovetails with recent reports and public statements from the organization indicating that the club is looking to spend. It also bodes well for Harper’s market that a team such as the White Sox is making a run at him even after he reportedly turned down a $300MM offer to remain in D.C.
    • As for the cross-town Cubs, all indications remain that they do not see themselves as a contender for Harper’s services, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers reiterates on Twitter. As Rogers puts it, if the club is “playing possum,” it’s “doing a heck of a job” at selling the act.
    • It remains to be seen what stance the Giants will take with regard to Harper, particularly as Farhan Zaidi settles into his new digs atop the club’s baseball operations department. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, though, agent Scott Boras certainly seems to see San Francisco as a viable landing spot for his client. Harper, he says, views the organization fondly — and would not only deliver value on the field, but off of it. As for the club’s viewpoint, it’s tough to say whether Harper will be deemed a sensible target. CEO Larry Baer said “there’s no restrictions” for his new top baseball decisionmaker; whether or not to join the bidding on Harper (or other hyper-expensive free agents) is “a judgment [Zaidi] is going to need to make.”
    • Of course, as Shea highlights, and Baer himself noted, that sort of outlay did not fit the M.O. of either of Zaidi’s prior two ballclubs — even those pesky division rivals to the south. Speaking of the Dodgers, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote recently that Harper is a player worthy of breaking the mold (and the bank) to acquire. Beyond his qualities as a ballplayer, Hernandez argues that Harper has the star power — and the right kind of attitude — to thrive in Los Angeles.
    • Interestingly, the Cardinals, per Jon Heyman of Fancred, “do not seem interested” in Machado despite seemingly lining up from the perspective of roster need. But there has been quite a lot of discussion in St. Louis circles as to whether Harper might be a target. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid out the state of affairs recently. The Cards, he says, are seen as “a factor” in the market for Harper. While some would write the St. Louis organization off due to a lack of monster contracts on their ledger, it’s worth bearing in mind that the club has entered significant bids for players such as Jason Heyward (see here) and David Price (see here) in recent seasons, and also sought to acquire Giancarlo Stanton last winter.
    • And what of the Yankees? The situation hasn’t really changed since last we checked in, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a crack at thinking through how things may play out. There’s little indication at present that the New York club has any real intention of going for Harper. But Machado makes for a much more intriguing roster fit, and could prove particularly tantalizing.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Report: Document Raises Questions About Dodgers’ Payroll Intentions]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136932 2018-11-08T22:44:54Z 2018-11-08T22:44:08Z Though the Dodgers’ pockets are among the deepest in the game, they haven’t been known (at least under their current front office leadership) for handing out monster contracts. The Dodgers, in fact, successfully dipped under Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold for the first time under the Guggenheim ownership group in 2018.

    Still, when the Los Angeles organization swung a massive contract swap last December to sneak beneath the tax line, the general assumption was that the club mostly saw an opportunity to re-set its tax rate. After all, the scheme under the current collective bargaining agreement includes enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, increasing the incentives for performing a limbo act at least once every few years. Many wondered if the timing was designed at least in part to coincide with a 2018-19 free agent market that features some premium talent.

    Now, though, there’s some evidence that the Dodgers may have different plans altogether. According to a report from Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, a 2017 document prepared for potential investors suggested that the organization projected to remain beneath the luxury tax threshold for years to come. Specifically, the Dodgers told investors they projected to carry a $185MM payroll for 2019 and 2020 before increasing that number to $191MM in 2021 and $196MM in 2022. The organization predicted soaring revenue despite a streamlined budget (including with regard to player salaries).

    Some provisos are assuredly warranted. As Shaikin explains, this document hardly binds the team in a legal sense. And a “high-ranking team official” tells Shaikin that the payroll numbers represented only a “forecast.” That said, it’s also fair to point out that any organization could theoretically expose itself to potential liability by including any known misrepresentations in a bid to draw investors.

    Notably, too, the document was prepared before the team qualified for the postseason last year and ultimately went on to make consecutive World Series appearances. And it’s somewhat unclear whether the salary levels contemplated would relate to actual expenditures or calculations for purposes of assessing the competitive balance tax. Over the long haul, that might not matter much, but it certainly weighs into both the team’s immediate plans and the intentions behind the numbers it presented.

    So, what might all this mean for the Dodgers’ near-term spending outlook? Most immediately, a source indicated to Shaikin that it’s quite likely the Dodgers will go past $200MM for the coming season. Whether or not that’s due to tweaked thinking since this document was prepared, it seems that the $185MM figure is no longer realistic.

    Even if the Dodgers were to stick to that kind of spending level, the constraints may not be as great as one might imagine. Presently, the Dodgers are within just a few million dollars of that $185MM sum, though that estimate includes yet-undetermined arbitration salaries and doesn’t account for factors like non-tendered players or potential trade candidates with notable salaries (or projected salaries).

    Furthermore, L.A.’s luxury tax ledger, which is based on the average annual salary of the team’s contracts rather than actual year-to-year salaries, is cleaner. Currently, the Dodgers payroll sits at just a bit north of $161MM for purposes of the CBA — well shy of this year’s $206MM luxury tax barrier. Even if one of Hyun-Jin Ryu or Yasmani Grandal were to accept a $17.9MM qualifying offer, the Dodgers would be at just over $179MM in luxury tax dollars, although that outcome would throw a wrench into the supposed 2019 bottom-line payroll target.

    All things considered, it’s eminently possible for the Dodgers to add a premium salary — even after re-upping Clayton Kershaw at a rate that’s just short of the loftiest AAV in history — while staying out of the tax. It would take some finagling, and would perhaps mean parting with talented players on generally appealing contracts, but the document does not seem to conclusively take the Dodgers out of the hypothetical running for highly-paid players.

    In the broader picture, of course, there’s surely something to be gleaned from this document. The notion of a payroll that trudges northward with inflation certainly does not align with the general image of the Dodgers as a freewheeling financial behemoth. It generally suggests that the organization will prioritize efficient spending while generally avoiding massive and lengthy contractual entanglements — a description that won’t be surprising to those that have followed the club’s course under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

    That said, it’s difficult to reach any firm conclusions based solely upon this document. For instance, the Dodgers’ financial experts may simply have been projecting payroll to grow steadily from its then-projected future rate, rather than making any detailed assessment of the ever-complicated process of compiling a roster from season to season. And there are always creative possibilities that could be part of the planning here. The Dodgers’ wealth of young talent leaves the team capable (in theory, at least) of shedding contracts that go bad in future seasons. Most importantly, business plans change, and individual player investment decisions will surely not be dictated by the directional thinking at one point in time.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Exercise Dave Roberts’ Option, Plan To Continue Negotiating Extension]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136839 2018-11-08T01:11:19Z 2018-11-08T00:53:52Z The Dodgers have exercised their 2019 club option on manager Dave Roberts, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman tells reporters (Twitter link via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). The two sides have been discussing an extension since the 2018 season ended, and while they’ve yet to reach an agreement, talks on a multi-year deal will continue. Friedman adds that he expects a multi-year deal to be reached at some point.

    Though there have been numerous reports pointing to a likely extension — Fancred’s Jon Heyman indicated yesterday that a four-year deal could be in the works — the Dodgers’ front office has had plenty of other issues with which to deal in the days since the World Series concluded. The team has already renegotiated David Freese’s contract to retain him for the 2019 season at a slightly lesser rate than his previous club option would’ve called for. More prominently, Dodgers brass hammered out a contract extension for ace Clayton Kershaw that guarantees him $93MM through the 2021 season.

    Added to the pile of complications is the fact that the Dodgers have been in the process of sorting out how they’ll proceed without general manager Farhan Zaidi, who left the organization to become the president of baseball operations for the division-rival Giants. Meanwhile, third base coach Chris Woodward has been named the new manager of the Rangers, while minor league hitting coordinator Paco Figueroa is on his way to the Phillies, where he’ll serve as an outfield/baserunning coach.

    The delay in lining up the terms of a new contract with Roberts, then, is somewhat understandable. And while some Dodgers fans will bristle at the notion of a new contract given Roberts’ affinity for platoon-based matchups and an adherence to limiting the number of times a starting pitcher is allowed to face an opposing lineup, the front office is clearly pleased with both the on-field results and the manner in which Roberts has managed a clubhouse filled with big personalities. Los Angeles has appeared in back-to-back World Series and won an NL West division title in each of Roberts’ seasons at the helm, and the Dodger staff has been largely successful in getting high-profile players to buy into functioning in reduced roles that are often dependent on matchups.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Name Farhan Zaidi President Of Baseball Operations]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136762 2018-11-07T04:50:16Z 2018-11-07T04:40:05Z 10:40pm: Zaidi’s contract is a five-year deal, tweets Baggarly.

    9:39pm: The Giants have formally announced Zaidi’s hiring.

    “I am delighted to return to the Bay Area and to join one of the most storied franchises in the game,” Zaidi said in a statement. “I have watched the Giants from afar and I have great respect for the organization’s culture and many accomplishments.  I am excited about this new opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting right to work.”

    9:30pm: Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweets that Zaidi will be formally introduced at a press conference at 1pm PT tomorrow afternoon.

    8:41pm: Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi has accepted an offer from the division-rival Giants to become their head of baseball operations, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported earlier today that the Giants had offered the title of president of baseball operations.

    Farhan Zaidi | Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    The addition of Zaidi brings an analytical/data-oriented approach to the Giants organization and marks a departure from the team’s longstanding pairing of Brian Sabean — who remains with the organization in an advisory role — and recently dismissed general manager Bobby Evans. That’s not to say that the Giants are completely without an analytics department, but they did come with the reputation of carrying a more traditional scouting-focused front office group. Under Zaidi, an MIT grad with a Ph.D in economics from UC Berkeley, they’ll surely beef up the implementation of more modern, data-driven decisions from a roster construction and in-game standpoint.

    Early suggestions at the time of Evans’ dismissal were that the Giants would hire both a president of baseball operations and a general manager. Zaidi, presumably, will have autonomy in selecting a GM to work alongside him, though as the new president, he’ll have final say on all baseball operations matters. The bump in title was a necessity in luring Zaidi away from Los Angeles — teams generally only let their execs jump to other organizations if the offer includes a promotion — but he’s been reported to be among the organization’s top choices for the past few days.

    By taking this position, the 41-year-old Zaidi will be returning to his old stomping grounds; Zaidi broke into baseball across the bay as a member of the Athletics front office, rising from a baseball operations analyst to the position of assistant GM over a more than decade-long run with the organization. While in Oakland, he aided the A’s with statistically-focused player evaluation in the draft, free agency and on the trade market, arbitration cases, contract negotiations and advance scouting.

    Zaidi will be tasked with rejuvenating a Giants roster that has become stagnant as its young core has grown older. The Giants thrived earlier this decade, winning three titles in a five-year span on the backs of brilliant showings from Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval, among others. That once-elite core has withered with time, and while Bumgarner and Posey remain prominent figures in the organization, each has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons. That’s true elsewhere on the roster, as well; Brandon Belt and Joe Panik, in particular, are among the Giants position players who’ve struggled to remain on the field, while high-priced pitchers Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon have each been felled by health troubles as well.

    The divergent paths that could be taken under Zaidi and a newly structured front office will make the Giants one of the more fascinating teams to watch this offseason. On the one hand, CEO Larry Baer has voiced a desire to aim to be competitive every season — an attitude that likely pushed Evans and Sabean to load up on veterans last offseason. But the additions of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria didn’t restore the organization to prominence, and Longoria’s contract now joins those of Cueto, Samardzija and Melancon as undesirable commitments that’ll be tough for the Giants to escape.

    However, that desire to remain competitive comes from ownership, and if going for it in 2019 is something of a mandate, then perhaps Zaidi & Co. will seek to supplement a flawed roster as best they can. San Francisco has been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Bryce Harper for the past year-plus, and the team’s successful effort to dip under the luxury tax barrier this past season only makes them a more logical landing spot if ownership is willing to commit the money.

    Conversely, though, if Zaidi and the eventual San Francisco GM ultimately conclude that a more long-term outlook needs to be taken, that narrative would quickly change. Should that be the case, the Giants could go in the extreme opposite direction, making Bumgarner available on the trade market while also dangling lefty Will Smith. Complementary pieces like Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland and Panik could all generate varying degrees of interest. Giants leadership would have its work cut out should they try to move many veterans beyond that group, however. Posey, Melancon and Brandon Crawford all have full no-trade clauses, while Samardzija, Belt and even Bumgarner all have limited no-trade clauses in their respective contracts.

    For now, it’s unclear exactly how the Giants will proceed — only that the manner in which the organization has typically operated will likely be changing, as will the general composition of the team’s front office, scouting staff and analytics department.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Reportedly Nearing Extension With Dave Roberts]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136700 2018-11-06T23:45:24Z 2018-11-06T23:40:50Z 5:40pm: The two sides “will have” a deal, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman, who adds that the expectation is for a new four-year deal to be completed by tomorrow.

    12:30pm: The Dodgers are “getting close” to striking a new contract with manager Dave Roberts, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). It has widely been anticipated that the sides would line up on a deal.

    Roberts has overseen three productive seasons in Los Angeles, reeling off division titles and taking the club to the World Series in each of the past two seasons. Of course, the Dodgers have lost in both trips, though it’s tough to judge those results too harshly. Along the way, Roberts has worked closely with the front office to deploy a supremely deep and flexible roster.

    All indications have been that the Dodgers would keep Roberts at the helm, though the mechanism for doing so hasn’t been certain. There has been plenty of optimism for a new contract, though it has also remained possible that the team would simply exercise its $1.1MM option over Roberts. It seems likely he’ll receive a significant pay bump over that salary level, which was reached when he was hired as a rookie skipper.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Reportedly Offer President Of Baseball Operations Title To Farhan Zaidi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136718 2018-11-06T23:00:30Z 2018-11-06T21:44:01Z The Giants have offered Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi the title of president of baseball operations within their organization, tweets MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that the ball is in Zaidi’s court and that the Dodgers “appear prepared to sign off” on the move. Joel Sherman of the New York Post had previously reported that Zaidi was the Giants’ top candidate. Per Morosi, a decision can be expected within the next 24 hours.

    Formerly an assistant general manager to Billy Beane with the Athletics, the now-41-year-old Zaidi has held his role as GM of the Dodgers since November 2014. He’d bring about a new era in San Francisco — one more commensurate with today’s data-driven baseball ops departments than the Giants had under Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean. That pairing served San Francisco quite well, delivering three World Series titles in a five-year span, but CEO Larry Baer has recently voiced a desire for a “next-gen” leader to the baseball operations team, and it seems that Zaidi is the preferred choice.

    Since the time Evans was dismissed, it’s been suggested that the Giants may ultimately make two new hires atop the baseball ops hierarchy. The fact that Zaidi has been offered a president of baseball ops title speaks to the further likelihood of that scenario, though that may well also be the cost of doing business to get him in the door. Teams typically will only let their top execs leave in order to pursue a promotion, so the Giants probably couldn’t have landed Zaidi had they only been offering a lateral move to the position of GM. Nonetheless, it stands to reason that Zaidi, if hired, could add a GM to serve underneath him in the coming weeks.

    Zaidi’s background with the A’s included statistically-focused player evaluation in the draft, free agency and on the trade market, arbitration cases, contract negotiations and advance scouting. He’s an MIT grad with a Ph.D in economics from UC Berkeley.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Hire Turner Ward As Hitting Coach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136680 2018-11-06T15:31:33Z 2018-11-06T15:31:33Z The Reds announced today that they have hired Turner Ward as their hitting coach. He’ll join the still-developing staff of new skipper David Bell.

    Ward, 53, had served in the same capacity with the Dodgers since the 2016 season. Previously, the former big leaguer worked as a minor-league manager and the assistant hitting coach for the Diamondbacks.

    With the news, it seems that former hitting coach Don Long will not be retained, at least in his prior role. The club recently hired pitching coach Derek Johnson away from the division-rival Brewers. It’s unclear as yet how the remainder of the staff will shake out.

    Meanwhile, the Dodgers will be left looking for a replacement hitting coach. The team is already seeking to hire a new third base coach after Chris Woodward left to become the Rangers manager.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Poll: Bryce Harper Vs. Manny Machado]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136586 2018-11-05T01:31:12Z 2018-11-05T01:30:59Z With free agency now open across Major League Baseball, it’s only a matter of time before we see a pair of players receive the richest contracts in the history of the sport. Outfielder Bryce Harper and shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado, two in-their-prime, Hall of Fame-level talents, figure to dominate headlines as long as they’re unsigned. It seems inevitable that both players will reel in contracts in excess of $300MM, and that may be a conservative estimate. Indeed, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, Steve Adams and Jeff Todd project Harper to land a 14-year, $420MM pact and Machado to sign a 13-year, $390MM deal. There would be substantial risk in either of those contracts, needless to say, but it’s not every winter that a couple 26-year-old superstars reach free agency.

    For a little while longer, the richest free-agent contract in major league history will belong to now-retired third baseman Alex Rodriguez, whom the Yankees re-signed to a 10-year, $275MM accord after the 2007 season. However, a current Yankee, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, owns the largest deal ever. He signed that contract – a 13-year, $325MM extension – in 2014 as a member of the typically small-spending Marlins, whose new ownership group felt it had no choice but to get Stanton’s money off the books last winter on the heels of an NL MVP-winning season.

    It’s now conceivable that the Yankees will sign at least one of Harper or Machado to join Stanton in their lineup, but their interest in/need for either is unclear. Even if the Yankees do chase one or both of those players, they’ll face quite a bit of competition from other teams capable of handing out mega-deals.

    Like Stanton, Harper already has an NL MVP on his resume, having won the award in 2015. That still easily ranks as Harper’s best season, but the longtime National has starred in nearly every campaign since he made his much-anticipated debut as a 19-year-old in 2012. Dating back to then, the lefty-swinging Harper ranks 10th in the majors in wRC+ (140, meaning he has been 40 percent better than the average offensive player) and 12th in position player fWAR (30.7, good for 4.6 per 600 plate appearance).

    If there are any legitimate knocks on Harper, they may be his defense and injury history. Regarding the former, Harper ranked second to last among all major leaguers this past season in both Defensive Runs Saved (minus-26) and Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-14.4). The defensive struggles he displayed in 2018 may be a reason to worry or simply a fluke, as the metrics viewed Harper as a competent outfielder during his previous seasons. Although Harper didn’t hold his own with the glove in ’18, he did appear in a career-high 159 games. The durability he showed off last season couldn’t have come at a better time for Harper, who missed 51 games in 2017 and whom injuries have limited to fewer than 120 contests two other times.

    With the exception of 2014, in which he only played 82 games, availability hasn’t been a problem for Machado. Since 2013, his first full season, Machado has racked up at least 156 appearances on five occasions. He played 162 games this past year, which he divided between the lowly Orioles and the NL-winning Dodgers, and turned in his third campaign with at least 6.0 fWAR.

    Going back to ’13, Machado sits seventh among position players in fWAR (29.0, which equals 4.5 per 600 PA), though he hasn’t achieved his value in quite the same way as Harper. From 2013-18, 47 players combined for a higher wRC+ than the righty-hitting Machado’s 121, though that’s still an outstanding number. Furthermore, he happens to be coming off a personal-best offensive campaign (141 wRC+) in which he belted 30-plus home runs (37) for the fourth straight year.

    There’s little doubt Machado will continue to be a formidable offensive player in the coming years, but whether he’ll serve as a defensive force could hinge on his position. Machado has been an all-world third baseman throughout his career, yet he prefers shortstop – his primary position in 2018, when he logged minus-13 DRS and minus-6.5 UZR.

    The biggest concern with Machado, though, may come down to character. He didn’t leave teams or fans with the best impression during this fall’s postseason, in which he was accused of being a dirty player. He also came under fire in the playoffs for a lack of hustle, including during the Dodgers’ World Series loss to the Red Sox, and admitted to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in mid-October: “Obviously I’m not going to change, I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ’Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”

    That’s not the mindset a team wants from any of its players, let alone a face-of-the-franchise type. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely to deter some club from awarding the incredibly gifted Machado one of the two biggest pacts in baseball history. For better or worse, he and Harper are primed to occupy a massive chunk of their next teams’ payrolls for several years to come. The question is: Which of the two do you believe has a better chance to live up to his next contract?

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Hire Chris Woodward As Manager]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136456 2018-11-03T17:20:18Z 2018-11-03T17:01:24Z The Rangers officially announced the hiring of Chris Woodward as their  manager for the 2019 season. He signs a three-year deal with a club option for 2022 to become the 19th full-time manager in club history.

    He will be introduced by the team at a press conference on Monday, November 5th at 10am CT at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

    Woodward’s hiring brings an end to an exhaustive process to identify a successor to recently dismissed skipper Jeff Banister. He was replaced late in the season on an interim basis by Don Wakamatsu, who was considered a candidate for the full-time gig but evidently has not landed it. The hiring was initially reported last night by Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Woodward, who has most recently served as the Dodgers third base coach, was called a “frontrunner” earlier in the day by Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter).

    The Rangers undertook an extensive search, but the initial effort failed to yield a clear candidate. Woodward, who just finished up his duties with the Dodgers in the World Series, was part of a second wave of names under consideration. Evidently, he aced the interview.

    Woodward, 42, built a 12-year MLB career after originally being taken in the 54th round of the 1994 draft. He last saw major-league action in 2011 and hung up his spikes for good after the 2012 campaign, so he isn’t that far removed from his playing days.

    Since that time, Woodward has worked in both the Mariners and Dodgers organizations. With Seattle, he served as minor league infield coordinator before moving up to the MLB staff for two campaigns. He ended up joining the staff of Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts. Over the past three seasons, he has high-fived many a homer-trotting Dodger and helped guide the organization to consecutive World Series appearances.

    Said the Rangers, via a press release:

    “We are excited to welcome Chris Woodward and his family to the Texas Rangers,” said Rangers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels. “Chris brings high energy, outstanding leadership and communication skills, a strong knowledge of the game and its evolving strategies, and great integrity—attributes that we feel are vital for our next manager. We believe these traits will resonate with our players, our staff, and our fans.  He has also been a big part of a very successful stretch in Los Angeles.

    “We interviewed a number of strong candidates during an extensive interview process for our managerial role and believe we have found the right fit in Chris Woodward. We look forward to working with him and everyone on the baseball staff to develop and grow a culture that will lead to success for many years to come.”   

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Richards, Kikuchi, Rockies, Realmuto]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136455 2018-11-03T05:03:06Z 2018-11-03T05:03:06Z Our predictions at the top of the free agent market are certainly not for the faint of heart; by our reckoning, both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have chances at securing record-setting contracts. Whether or not that’ll come to pass remains to be seen, but a more pressing question for hot-stove enthusiasts may be whether we’ll see a repeat of last winter’s agonizingly slow market. It seems fair to say our overall slate of predictions represents a general bet that the activity will pick up this time around. Indeed, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that there’s a broader sense that the 2018-19 offseason will feature action. The player market, he says, could be “robust early” and “awfully busy” all winter long.

    We heard earlier about some intriguing possibilities in Cleveland. For the most part, though, things are just starting to get heated up. Here’s some early chatter:

    • While Garrett Richards will hit the market while still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, that doesn’t mean he won’t draw strong interest. Indeed, a dozen teams have already reached out, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). It’s no surprise to hear that, as quite a variety of clubs have agreed to two-year contractual arrangements with recovering hurlers in recent seasons, primarily in hopes of capturing value in the second season of the deal. MLBTR predicts that Richards will land a deal right in line with some of those cases.
    • The Dodgers factor as a strong possible suitor for Japanese hurler Yusei Kikuchi, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets. It’s hard to argue with that assessment based upon recent history, even if the Los Angeles club seems to be well on its way to filling out a deep rotation mix. The Dodgers have secured several talented but less-hyped starters from Asia via the posting process and have given out several large deals to pitchers with injury questions. In this case, Kikuchi figures to draw a number of suitors, particularly since he’s just 27 years of age. But recent shoulder woes could be a red flag for some organizations. Truthfully, it’s exceedingly difficult to get a read on his potential market, but the Dodgers are among the west coast organizations that seem to be rather good fits if Kikuch is posted, as seems likely but has yet to be decided conclusively.
    • As the offseason gets underway, the Rockies represent a bit of a mystery team. They obviously look to be a contender, but have some clear needs and don’t appear to have much payroll flexibility barring a boost in their spending or clever move to shed salary. GM Jeff Bridich said today, as Nick Groke of The Athletic tweets, that the club will seek to oversee “responsible growth with the payroll,” adding that “success begets more growth.” That seems at least to leave open the possibility that the organization could add some more dollars to the books, though what kind of outlay might be possible remains unclear. Improving a lagging offense is the priority, as MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes.
    • While the Marlins have given prior indication that they hoped to pursue a long-term deal with catcher J.T. Realmuto, his agent shot that idea down rather candidly, indicating that he does not expect his client to don a Marlins uniform in 2019. That hasn’t deterred the Miami brass, though, as Wells Dusenbury of the Sun Sentinel was among those to cover (Twitter links). CEO Derek Jeter rejoined recently that the Miami organization will decide where Realmuto plays. Today, president of baseball operations Michael Hill says that Realmuto’s apparent preferences won’t “impact in any way how we approach our offseason.” Of course, it still seems quite likely that the Marlins will end up marketing Realmuto this winter, as his value has undeniably crested after turning in a strong season with two more arb years left to go.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Announce New Deal With Clayton Kershaw]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136397 2018-11-03T00:15:53Z 2018-11-02T21:57:27Z The Dodgers have officially struck a new deal with star lefty Clayton Kershaw. It’s a reported three-year, $93MM pact that does not include any new opt-out opportunities — but does have significant incentives.

    Kershaw will earn $31MM in each year of the contract. The contract will include some significant incentive pay, allowing him to tack on $1MM each time he reaches 24, 26, 28, and 30 starts — meaning he can add $4MM in each season he’s at full health. Kershaw will also earn $1.5MM if he receives a Cy Young Award or $500K for a top-three finish.

    This new deal was formalized just before Kershaw was to make a final decision on his preexisting contract. That pact, signed before the 2014 season, gave him the right to opt out of the remaining two years and $65MM. Rather than testing free agency, and perhaps considering alternative destinations, the veteran southpaw will remain with the only organization he has known as a professional.

    This deal will only tack on a single season with $28MM in new money, which may seem light for a pitcher of Kershaw’s accomplishments. On the other hand, he has not been his previously peerless self over the past three campaigns. Kershaw will turn 31 before the start of the 2019 season and has only averaged 162 frames annually since the start of 2016. Given that he obviously preferred to remain with the Dodgers, perhaps it’s not terribly surprising that he’ll sign on for another year at a premium rate of pay but without obtaining a significant new term of years.

    At the same time, it’s clearly a rather appealing agreement from the Dodgers’ perspective, particularly since they will only be on the hook through his age-33 campaign. Kershaw remains one of the game’s more productive starters, after all, and his immense talent base is impossible to ignore. In every season from 2011 through 2014, Kershaw led the National League in ERA and WHIP. He was just as dominant in all respects in the two ensuing seasons, though 2016 was when back issues became a problem.

    More recently, as back ailments have continued to pop up, Kershaw’s peripherals have slipped. He has been somewhat more prone to the long ball, in particular. Plus, his fastball velocity dipped notably in 2018, landing at 91.4 mph. Even still, Kershaw has provided 336 1/3 innings of 2.52 ERA ball, over 53 starts, since the beginning of the 2017 season.

    To compensate for the loss of heat, Kershaw has relied far more heavily than ever before on his slider, while maintaining his occasional use of a big hook. Regaining some fizz on the fastball would certainly go a long way toward Kershaw regaining his mastery, though it seems reasonable to believe he can continue to produce quality results even if that’s not in the offing.

    Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links) first reported the deal. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links) had financial details.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers To Issue Qualifying Offer To Hyun-Jin Ryu]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136417 2018-11-02T21:18:36Z 2018-11-02T21:18:36Z The Dodgers have extended a qualifying offer to left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). He’ll have ten days to decide whether to accept the one-year, $17.9MM offer.

    While all of the other qualifying offer recipients were fairly straightforward cases, it was hardly clear that Ryu would receive one. But the Los Angeles organization has shown time and again that it is not afraid of risking money on talented pitchers who come with health questions, so they have decided to stake a hefty pile of cash on a player they originally signed out of Korea six seasons ago.

    Since coming to Los Angeles, Ryu has been steadily excellent — when healthy. He owns a career 3.20 ERA in the majors, but hasn’t yet cracked 600 total innings because of significant shoulder and elbow surgeries along with a groin tear. In the 2018 campaign, Ryu recorded 82 1/3 frames of 1.97 ERA ball, with an appealing mix of 89 strikeouts and just 15 walks backing the results.

    Given the health history, the 31-year-old Ryu may well consider taking the offer. If not, he’ll enter the free-agent market in search of a contract that likely won’t pay him quite at that annual rate, but could certainly included much more total guaranteed money. Of course, his market would be harmed to some extent by the fact that a signing team would need to surrender draft compensation to add him.

    Ultimately, the Dodgers will end the day having issued qualifying offers to two players: Ryu and Yasmani Grandal. The club unquestionably would have had another in Clayton Kershaw, but locked him up with a new deal before the deadline for him to exercise an opt-out clause.

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